The United Nations announced today that it will close its human rights office in Angola, after authorities in the southern African nation decided not to sign an agreement that would have formally established the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country.OHCHR, which has had a presence in Angola since 2003, has been asked by the Government to cease its activities in the country by 31 May, according to a news release issued by the Geneva-based Office. This came “after the authorities decided not to proceed any further with negotiations on establishing a formal Memorandum of Understanding similar to those under which OHCHR usually operates in other countries.”UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she “respected but regretted” the Government’s decision.“We look forward to examining any fresh initiatives the Government may suggest in line with its voluntary pledge to the Human Rights Council to increase its cooperation with my Office,” Ms. Arbour said.Over the past five years, OHCHR has been working to increase awareness of human rights in Angola, which was devastated by a 27-year civil war that finally ended in 2002. In addition to helping to establish a national human rights institution, the Office also assisted the Ministry of Justice in the area of alternative mechanisms of justice, and promoted the inclusion of human rights education in primary and secondary schools.OHCHR was also helping the Government in preparing its national reports to various human rights treaty bodies. 18 April 2008The United Nations announced today that it will close its human rights office in Angola, after authorities in the southern African nation decided not to sign an agreement that would have formally established the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country.

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